Sleep and Brain Function
Everybody is searching for the newest, hottest nootropic stack to optimize brain function and improve their memory. But the best way to improve their cognitive abilities could be right under their noses - and they don't even realize it! The answer is, of course, sleep. Do you know if you're getting enough sleep for optimal brain function? If you're not sure, then we suggest you keep reading. By the time you finish this article, you definitely will be!
The Different Stages of Sleep
In total, there are five different stages of the human sleep cycle. Stages one through four start out in the shallowest levels of sleep, and get progressively deeper. Your body experiences different physiological changes as it transitions through each stage of sleep. Finally, there is the last stage of sleep - REM sleep - which is so unique that, unlike the other stages of sleep, it gets its own name.
For optimal health and brain function, you should get about four to five complete sleep cycles each night of about 90 minutes each. A proper sleep cycle should start out in the shallower stages of sleep, go into the deeper stages of sleep, come back up into REM sleep, and then finish in the shallower stages of sleep. If you don't get a sufficient quantity of sleep cycles each night, if you don't cycle through each stage of sleep in the proper order, and/or if you don't spend enough time in specific stages of the sleep cycle, your health and brain function can become compromised.
REM sleep is a very special and distinct stage of sleep which is physiologically different from any other stage of sleep in the human sleep cycle. Some scientists refer to it as paradoxical sleep because your brain is extremely active despite not being conscious. In fact, most people's brain waves register so much activity during REM sleep that if you couldn't see them sleeping in a bed, you would swear they were awake.
REM sleep is extremely important for memory consolidation and mental health. Without it, you'll have a poor time remembering things - which can get very inconvenient if you are a student or if you work in a detail-oriented, dynamic field. Furthermore, people who shortchange themselves when it comes to REM sleep tend to suffer more frequently from mental health disorders like depression and their symptoms tend to be more severe.
If you want to improve your REM sleep, do your best to avoid things like alcohol and/or cannabis before bed. Ethanol - as well as certain compounds in THC - inhibit the brain's ability to spend as much time in REM sleep as it wants to. Over-using or abusing these substances over time can lead to rebound REM sleep which is narcoleptic in nature and comes on without warning - but only in the most extreme cases. Waking up too early in the morning can also cut down on your REM sleep because your body tends to get the most REM sleep between 2 and 8 AM. So be sure to give yourself a full night's sleep in order to get all of the REM you need.
Deep Delta Sleep
Delta Sleep is the deepest stage of sleep you enter right before your body starts transitioning back into the shallower cycles and REM sleep. REM sleep is important for overall, long-term brain function because of how important it is for your overall brain health. A lack of delta sleep can result in premature brain aging, whereas ample amounts of delta sleep can help improve cognitive function and contribute towards longevity.
When you sleep at night, your brain cells shrink down to approximately 40% to 60% of their normal size. When this happens, they simultaneously expel most of their cellular waste from the day and create more interstitial space for this waste to flow through. But this isn't a bad thing - as a matter of fact, this is the detoxification process your brain must go through each night in order to keep your neurons healthier and more active for as long as possible. When you don't get delta sleep, your neurons don't get to flush away their cellular waste. The toxins build up like trash during a garbage strike, and the build-up compromises the health of your brain cells. In extreme cases, lack of delta sleep can cause such severe cognitive compromise and kill your brain cells so rapidly that it contributes to age-related brain disease.
Most people spend the majority of their sleep cycle getting Delta sleep in the later hours of the evening and the early hours of the morning. 10 PM to 2 AM is the sweet spot for delta sleep in the human body. So if you're one of those night owls that likes to stay up late, you now know why you often wake up which severe brain fog, fatigue, and have so much trouble getting in bed. It's your lack of delta sleep!
Constant Focus, Sleep, and Brain Function
In order to get the best brain function possible, you have to fix your sleep schedule. Some of the best tips you'll find from health professionals and sleep experts improving your sleeping habits include:
- Practice good sleep hygiene - create a daily bedtime routine that relaxes you and prepares you for rest
- Blue light blocking glasses or limited light exposure - so that you produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone) at night
- Practice meditation or other stress relieving exercises for your brain - meditation reduces anxiety and increases GABA levels in the brain so that you aren't tossing and turning all night with anxious thoughts
- Exercise more - burning more energy during the day tires you out and get you ready when it's time to sleep after the sun goes down
- Eat whole foods and plenty of colorful vegetables - nutritional deficiencies and brain inflammation from inflammatory foods I'll contribute towards insomnia and sleep disturbances; eating a healthy, whole food diet produces an opposite effect which can dramatically improve sleep
If you aren't getting enough sleep and you're struggling to function at your best mentally, you might get some relief from a supplement like Constant Focus. It helps support optimal brain function by delivering nutrients to your neurons in ways that might be limited by a poor night's sleep. We strongly recommend you do everything you can to improve your sleep habits for optimal brain function; but in the meantime, get a brain boost from Constant Focus to help you get through the day after a sleepless night.